Saturday, August 20, 2011

The skills of bad-assery

Once upon a time (yesterday), a woman wrote a blog on Huffington Post. In her article she lamented the growing number of women who enjoy (and blog about) domestic womanly pursuits, like baking and gardening. How they seemed to have retreated into an ultra femininity of the past - a delicate, pathetic girliness. She was aghast that we have squandered the hard-fought gains of our fore-mothers. You know, suffrage and the ability to be the Board Chair of a big company and not wear a bra.

She was making a tired point that so many small minded women have made before... trying to convince us that there is only one form of feminism wherein women are the same as men. (This is naturally stupid. Though women should absolutely have the same opportunities as men, we have different strengths that should be celebrated, not cast aside. Some people even argue that this idea of feminism - being a working mom and the chair of the board - has succeeded not because it was good for women or families, but because it was good for industry.... this is all a separate blog post, and suddenly too long to be parenthetical.)

The blogger, however, in attempting to make her small minded point did something that resulted in a firestorm I am certain she didn't expect.

She called out knitters - and one knitter in particular - as proof of our femininity destroying feminism. Knitters, she implied, are meek, delicate girly girls and the complete opposite of bad asses. We who love fiber arts are ruining feminism for women who shoot guns, hot-wire cars and kill vampires. We, with our lacy shawls, are an embarrassment and should be ashamed.

Here is the problem (and hopefully something the blogger has now learned). Knitters are not homogeneous. Just as Board Chairwomen are not. I recently read an article about a woman serving in the army in Iraq who set up a knitting group for her fellow soldiers. Here in Indy, The Naptown Roller Girls wrote a book of knitting patterns which includes armpit cushions for crutches, an Elevate that Ankle Pillow, and a "hey, at least it wasn't your leg" arm sling. There are active groups of knitters on Ravelry for bikers, gun owners, homesteaders and martial artists. Sounds pretty badass, no?

In a related vein, the large, large majority of business owners in the knitting community - people who sell yarn or dye it, write patterns, publish books and even raise sheep are women (unlike the male-dominated Hollywood that she extols for giving us kick ass role models). With the exception of a very few men, much of the knitting industry is owned and run by women. I wish I could put a dollar amount on that - but instead, know that there are more active knitters in the US than golfers.

Finally, if Ms. Aloi is really, truly concerned about the ability of domestic sorts of women to survive in an apocalyptic future - and she mentions it twice, so I presume she is - I must take issue with her logic. Gardening, she believes is worthless, and women should prepare to "manipulate our way into a bomb shelter" instead (which sounds daftly sexist to me). So, let's say we bad ass women overpower all the men with our bad-assery and superior marksmanship. And we eat their bomb shelter food - we eat it real good. All of it. Then what?? I imagine we're going to wish we knew how to grow some more damn food. Or make some warm sweaters that keep the rain off our bad ass calloused skin as we're out hunting for more men to beat up.

And here is the thing - my whole main point. Women are GOOD at these things. In general, we are better at them than men. Successfully gardening and raising farm animals especially requires the skills of nurturers - observant, intuitive nurturers. And (in general) this is an area where women excel.

So, why are we ignoring those skills and talents? Why would we dismiss them as being anti-feminist? We should consider the ability to turn raw wool into a sweater, or grow pounds and pounds of potatoes, or can a year's supply of beans just as bad ass as defending a border or killing a deer.

Because it is.

I knit and garden. And I am a bad ass.


  1. Killing deer does not always equate to badass. For example, stalking one from behind the corner of your house while in your pajamas? :)

  2. The comments that people fired back to that original blog post make it worth reading-- Yes, interesting how so many of her examples of strong women are movie/tv characters.

  3. I love this post. Cheering behind the screen here. :D